Practical Innovation on an Everyday Scale

In June, Proctor & Gamble introduced a new product, ZzzQuil, a product line extension of the over-the-counter sleep aid NyQuil, but without the cold medicine ingredients.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Innovator’s Enigma,” John Bussey discussed analysts’ negative reaction not to the product itself, but to the fact that it was derivative, not innovative.  One dissatisfied portfolio manager was quoted saying, “It’s a sign of what passes for innovation at P&G.”

There’s no denying that ZzzQuil is a derivative of NyQuil, but that’s what’s so brilliant about it.  Every business owner wants to extend the “shelf life” of a proven success. It’s not every day (or every decade) that a product as revolutionary as the iPod is introduced. In everyday business life, opportunities to expand and enlarge what is already working are everywhere.  Waiting around for a game-changer is going to mean a lot of waiting. By taking what’s already working and creating product line extensions, companies can experience huge growth.  Indeed, that’s what P&G is built on.

Another example cited by Bussey is the cosmetics company Avon. Avon developed a very popular bath oil, which just happened to also repel insects, and turned it into an entire line of products and saw millions of dollars in additional sales.

For those on the front lines of product creation, niche ideas are much more practical than unprecedented ones. From a marketing perspective, derivative product lines can be wildly successful and a great means of fueling revenue growth.


-By Berbay Principal Sharon Berman

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